A collage of faces

This is a hard one for me.

It has been a good week. I have been watching what I eat, and expanding what I am eating and I have lost 3 more kilos of weight without trying too hard. I am walking more often, and will do some hard walking this weekend (i.e. around 4kms). I am feeling good, clothes are fitting better, lots of milestones getting into sight, the whole works.

17692589_10105666778512288_1760084514_oAnd tonight, as I was picking something up in the Bathroom I realised I haven’t looked at myself in weeks. I looked at my face, saw a completely different person, someone whom I hadn’t seen in years.

As a bigger man, I have longed learned the art of “seeing but not looking” at myself for years. When you are big, you often feel invisible, and that includes towards yourself. I have often talked about the shield of being fat, and how people avoid you. And at times… many times, I wanted to be invisible, I wanted no one to look at me, even myself. I would teach myself to see myself, but never look at me, never appreciate who I was, because I was so sad, embarrassed… and even hated how I looked. That vague pass through the mirror to make sure you were not a complete disaster, don’t focus on the weight, just look for the other obvious stuff. Focus on just the hair, or just the eyes, makes it so much easier to ignore the things you don’t want to see.

I didn’t think I had trained myself so well.

With the Surgery and the weight Loss Journey, I have been taking face photos of myself every few days. I would take the photo, see them, and put them in a folder. Tonight, I realised I hadn’t looked at myself since the last time I took my photo.

I took a long look in the mirror and remarked how much my face looked differently. In many ways I didn’t look myself. I went back to my office, and flipped open my phone, I decided to take a quick picture, and then made the above collage.

I look at those pictures. At the top, that was the weekend before I began the pre-diet. I had traveled with my family, and I couldn’t buy any shirts because I was too big for them. I could fit into a bare handful of clothes, and things were getting tighter every day. A few days prior I was weighed at my heaviest. I wasn’t happy in that photo. I look at it and I see the pain, the embarrassment, the fear, and the emotion of taking a selfie. The smile was painted on, and one that I have used a lot in the last year, both because of my weight, and working through grief (and that is another post for another day).

From there, the pictures run clockwise with time, The second pic was the Day of my Surgery, notice the apprehension. The next three are taken roughly two weeks apart, ending on the photo I took tonight in the bottom left. I am now officially down 33 kgs/72.75 pounds. It is confronting to see my picture from 9 weeks ago and seeing the massive difference. While I can see the changes in my legs, my arms, and my belly, but my face… because I have conditioned myself to ignore myself so long out of self-loathing and embarrassment, it was a shock.

I finally looked at myself.

I am unsure how I feel about it. I feel my face feels a bit thinner than the rest of my body. I look healthy, which is good. Also, my hairstyle doesn’t change (and only the bushiness of my beard varies). It is emotional to look at. this is how much I have changed in 9 weeks? That much?!?! My Doctor said this week that I am too hard on myself after being disappointing in only losing 2 and a half kilos in two weeks. In looking at these photos, I can tell why he said that.

Throughout this journey, I have been seeking to find the person I see myself as, and what body I am comfortable with. And today, as I looked in the mirror for the first time in weeks, I saw a glimmer, and I can’t wait to see more.

-W

Immigration, Housing, and New Zealand

Immigration has been a hot, and sensitive subjects all over the world. From Europe and the the Refugee Crisis in the Middle East, to the US and the Border Wall with Mexico, to Japan considering letting more people in, Immigration often leans on racist, xenophobic behaviors that runs counter to most free societies.

This is not a new thing.

The US has complained about Immigrants coming to America ever since its inception, whether it was the Irish, or the Italians, or the Chinese or Indians, the US has long held anti-immigration stances within its populace. And with the exception of WWII, when millions of Europeans left the continent and countries around the world took them in, today’s landscape is a little more barren and a bit more heartless. Nonetheless, there are over 244 million migrants in the world, or about 3% of the worlds population.

And I am one of them.

The reason why I bring this up is that currently in New Zealand, there is a push to restrict the buying of land and property only to those who are Permanent Residents or Citizens.  The push comes as the Auckland region faces unaffordable housing due to a variety of factors, including property speculation and people buying investment properties without living in them. A lot of people place the blame on *foreign* investors who “don’t even live in the country buying property.”

I personally believe that “foreign” is a term to blur the lines of racial bias.

In 2015, when speaking about the housing Crisis, the Labour party decided to list the names of people who bought houses over a period of time, to highlight how many Chinese names came up in the list. It was seen as racist and incendiary, even after Labour Leader Andrew Little claimed it wasn’t about the Chinese, it is about non-residents buying land. Never mind that 15% of Auckland’s population are Asian and residents of New Zealand, many of those names are second and third generation Kiwis and just because your last name is “Lee” doesn’t mean you are asian. When people discuss “foreign” ownership, it is almost completely centers around asians, especially here.

In the last few days, this petition keeps coming up and both my Husband and I have engaged in discussions on it. Even after pointing out that I am not yet a Permanent Resident (hopefully in a few months!) and that this law would have affected me if it was in place when we bought our place last year.  Even though I am someone who wants to be apart of the culture of New Zealand, people are undeterred. First, we get the “Oh but you are different”, and the allusions that I should be excluded from their accusations about foreigners. When I point out that I am no different than a Chinese immigrant according to their goals, they still try to explain away me before getting back to the argument.

I find that I am a thorn in the side of many who make this argument because I am a white, english-speaking male who can blend into New Zealand relatively easy.

There are a lot of ways you can take a look at the housing situation in New Zealand. Firstly, the property market in Auckland is actually cooling down right now. Also, with rising interest rates, there is less interest in investing *in general* and as a result, it is cooling things down. Now the combination of a slowing market and rising interest rates means that even fewer people are going to be able to get a home (which is slightly ironic if you think about it). Further, we still have a shortage of 40,000 homes in the region, so as people immigrate here, or stay here because the world is going crazy, it is going to compound the situation.

My approach would be to look into Investor laws (for all investors, not just foreign investors) and charge them tax for having empty properties in the city. (Last year, there were 33,000 homes that were vacant). Again, this is not just due to foreign investors, but investors in general. I would also look into ways of enticing migrants and citizens into regional New Zealand. New Zealand is defined by Auckland, and by having 1/3 of the countries population in the metro area, we need better ways of distributing that population throughout the country in a way that is economically beneficial for everyone. And lastly, I would look at ways to bring better, affordable housing to the area in a way that doesn’t become ghettoised and reaches people who desperately need it. While these are not easy, and Investors have a lot of stake here, and will push back at any more rules, we shouldn’t pin this solely on foreigners or non-kiwis as the problem.

10 years of bare bones interest rates and lax investor laws caused this, not just Investors from China.

Nonetheless, the “foreign investors” boogeyman has been sufficiently xenophobic enough to get people on the hate train. Several Banks have now stipulated that non-residents need a 40% upfront downpayment to buy an existing home. (which if it is an investor… would they really care?) and Labour will likely run on a campaign to restrict non-residents in buying a home, and it will likely be popular.

In the end, I think this is a bad move for New Zealand. This is a country that is open, free, and progressive. As a young nation, 87% of whom are immigrants themselves to this land in the last 200 years, we should not be attacking and blaming foreigners for problems of our own making. It is time we put away our blinders and look at the issue without discrimination over kiwi vs. non-kiwi. There is where we will find our solution, not by demonising the amorphous “Foreigner”

Random thoughts heading into the weekend

Bailey the Pug is doing well. She has been really good this week in a lot of areas. She is meeting dogs regularly now in her walks around town and in social events. She has definitely taken on that “little dog” mentality at points. She is cautious, but ambitious in her interactions with other dogs. Right now, we are teaching her to walk next to us on the leash/lead and it is working well. She figures things out quickly, and even if it is for a treat, she knows what to do, and that is awesome. Sit is now ingrained in here, so that is pretty awesome. She is getting into a better routine at home, and thusly has gotten better at house training, I feel that we are almost at 90% in terms of going to the bathroom in the right place. Also, the park is becoming her favorite place (and ours). There she runs around and has an blast… and then comes home and sleeps. It is awesome.

*****

So, in gaming news, Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm is making some huge changes to their game. Now HotS is a game that I fell into it about two years now. Similar to DotA and LoL, it is a MOBA style game, but has not catch the interest equal to the 50 million LoL players out there. Anyhow, Blizzard has revamped the progression system as well as change how their cosmetic items are handled. It is a brilliant development and it feels like the game is posed to make a huge jump. However, with the MOBA industry starting to come off its previous highs, this could be a tough market to get into. Personally, I love it. I love HotS and seeing the changes are fantastic. If you’re ever interested to play, hit me up!

*****

A few days ago, I talked about being more creative. That is still on my mind… one of the things I have thought about is writing some short stories and posting them on here. While they will not win anything, it may be nice to do some writing and get some feedback here and there. I kinda want to rewrite a short story I did a few years ago, and maybe develop it a bit more. That could be interesting.

*****

I remember being a kid and being blown away at people who didn’t have cable television. Now, as an Adult, who has lived cable free for 7 years, wonders what the fuss is all about.

*****

This weekend, New Zealand gets an bonus Hour since it is the end of Daylight Savings. Bucking convention, I enjoy daylight savings, and coming from the Northern Midwest, appreciate the sun not rising at 3:45 in the morning during the summer. However, it seems that so many people here *hate* it with a passion. I think that for Auckland, it works well. Right now, the Sun rises at around 7am, with sun light hitting us at around 8am. That shift will be nice when it comes this weekend. I think in many ways, Daylight Savings is like Vaccines: We have had it so long, people doubt how good it can be. (though honestly, daylight savings is nowhere near as important as vaccines)

Regardless, I am enjoying my extra hour of sleep… except that Bailey has no concept of time and will wake up at the normal time anyhow… sigh.

*****

For those without the extra hour, or those who have a busy weekend ahead, enjoy it. Don’t get wrapped up in the world too much, and enjoy the ones you love. have a great day ūüôā

News Roundup: March 31

Today is Friday, March 31, and the end of the first quarter of the year, and here are the stories that interest me.

Lawmakers in El Salvador have overwhelmingly voted to ban metal mining in the country. The small Central American Country is fighting back against soil erosion, lack of water, and a rising population in making this move. A Moratorium had been in place for 10 years, however, international gold companies, who often use cyanide to extract the gold which enters the water supply, have been trying to reach a gold vein in the northern part of the country. The worry is that there is a dwindling amount of clean water in the country, and metal mining will threaten that source. The bill had wide support across the political spectrum, and it was somewhat a surprise that the lawmakers were so overwhelming in their decision.

Former President Park Geun-hye has been arrested in South Korea in a part of an ongoing investigation into the corruption scandal that saw her impeached a few weeks ago. As the election to replace her continues, the police has questioned and now arrested the former President. they now have 19 days to law formal charges on her. If convicted, Park will be the third South Korean President jailed for crimes done while in office.

The Supreme Court in Venezuela has stripped the Congress of Legislative Powers. The Court last night invalidated the Congress, who is currently controlled by opponents of President¬†Nicol√°s Maduro, is seen as the only opposition to the President, due to it being held in contempt. The Supreme Court has routinely invalidated bills passed by the opposition against Mr. Maduro sine the opposition took control in last year’s elections. Fears in the region that a dictatorship has replaced the democracy has been raised.

The country of Lithuania is celebrating as a copy of their Constitution, from 1918, has been discovered in a German archive. The constitution was believed to be completely lost in the chaos of the new country and threats from Russia, who was in the throws of revolution itself. The German Ministry has confirmed its authenticity and it is believed that the copy will be brought to Lithuania ahead of its centenary celebration next year.

 

 

Game Review: Mass Effect: Andromeda

Last week, I did two things gaming wise: I beat and completed Horizon Zero Dawn, and I started Mass Effect: Andromeda.

It has been an interesting transition.

Coming back to a franchise that I love is always fraught with peril. On one hand, you get the comfortable feeling of slipping into well worn shoes. You pick up the controls and you settle into a world that you once devoured. On the other hand, you get there, and you find everything slightly off. Or that the nostalgia has given you rose-tinted glasses and you realise how much you put up with the game in order to enjoy it.

With Mass Effect: Andromeda, you get a little bit of both.

I guess I will start off with my harshest critiques first.

Mass Effect: Andromeda hasn’t innovated enough since its last offering. From the story, to the controls and UI, ME:A has largely rested on the laurels of its predecessors without keeping up with the times. While the game is still good, it hasn’t taken the next step in gaming evolution, and it shows its age.

ME:A follows a group of explorers who left the Milky Way Galaxy and travelled for 600 years in cryostatis. After arriving there, challenges plague the settlers as they find their way in the Andromeda Galaxy. The explores represent the major races you found in the first Mass Effect Trilogy, but this goes not include any of the original characters from the game (makes sense, they are 600 years in the past). You are the “Pathfinder” tasked with finding planets for colonial settlement. You and your team of Milky Way and Andromeda Aliens work together to face the challenges of the new Galaxy.

Along the way, you do side quests as well, as develop personal relationships, including sexual relationships, with various characters in the game.

My biggest gripe about Andromeda is the UI. It feels it has hardly changed from previous versions. Folders upon folders to switch quests? the interface is clunky and old, and takes you out of the moment. Contrast that with Horizon Zero Dawn were you can switch weapons, items, while in game, and the Quests are easy and understandable to switch between. The UI is just no longer intuitive for gamers, and it feels more of a throwback than a progression.

The other gripe I have of the game if his ham-handedness with the dialogue/personal relationship. Now as a Gay man, I of course decided to try and pursue a gay relationship in the game. Now, BioWare has a history of having sexual relationships in their games, from Mass Effect to Dragon Age, some of the most talked about features is who you can sex, and what combinations¬†there are. Gay Male relationships were introduced in Mass Effect 3, and Dragon Age: Inquisition had a couple of very good Gay Male options, and also dialogue. ME:A feels like a step back.¬†It kinda feels like the romance option for Gay Men were written by people who don’t know Gay people at all. The conversations are a bit cliched, and the whole thing feels like it was written by straight people. Gil, the engineer of the ship whom I am currently romancing, talks constantly about his friend Jill, who is in charge of reproduction for the travellers to Andromeda, and she keeps remarking how Gil should look at it. While the kid conversation is… nice… it just seems like the whole conversation felt nothing like anything me or my gay friends would say or do. It actually feels a bit “After-school special” territory with a “Full House.” Moral ending. It feels like it is just kinda slotted into the game to show its inclusiveness, as if saying “Hey! We get you want children too, here is a conversation to that effect!”

Also, I have ran into a couple of Trans NPCs, and again, the conversation seems to be created by people who have only seen and heard Trans people on TV. And while I am all for more diverse inclusion into the game, this is a disappointment to only boil groups into stereotypes. Dragon Age: Inquisition did an amazing job in having both good gay relationships and Characters, and a believable trans character with the dialogue to match. But in stepping back, I realise that Mass Effect has always been like this. What was progressive in 2007 seems a bit insulting now in 2017. It is not enough to have someone be Trans or Gay in a game, they need to be more than just Trans or Gay. I want good characters who happen to be Trans or Gay.

But then, the game seems like a lot of fun.

The game play is good, it reminds me of what I love from the overall series. I like the progression system, the abilities, the profiles, and the way you can switch around them relatively easy. I love the locales, and how big the areas are. I like the combat mechanics, and I actually enjoy the multiplayer quite a bit.

And that is the rub. There is enough of the game that I really like to outweigh the parts that annoy me.

I think part of the let down comes from playing the game so soon after Horizon Zero Dawn, and while I know I have a bias of loving the game, it feels like a complete evolution from Mass Effect’s story structure and it gives a better, more progressive, story without being so ham-fisted. HZD also had a trans characters but it was done in a way that treated the NPC as a character and not a tickbox. HZD felt like they had a wide range of people in on the development of the game who gave their characters believable dialogue. ¬†The same was done with gay characters throughout the game. It may be referenced, but it wasn’t the defining feature of the character. For Gil, he is defined by being Gay, and his friend Jill pestering him to have a baby. (I personally think Jill has a crush on Gil and wants to get him into bed, but that is just my imagination running wild).

So, I have begun to approach ME:A as a game that is fun, but is no longer the go-to game of action RPG games. Its story suffers from trying too hard to tick off requirements of inclusion without putting in the work to make the inclusion a part of the story and making it better. The gameplay is still good, and the game still enjoyable if you glaze over the cheesy dialogue between characters. The storyline is alright, weaker than the original series, and the main characters are harder to get to know and like. Maybe time will tell, but it I kinda miss Shepard.

I give it a B-
3.5 stars out of 5
8/10 overall.

 

News Roundup: March 30

Good morning, today is Thursday, March 30, and here are the stories that interest me.

Riots have hit Paris for a second night after Paris police shot and killed a Chinese Man in his own home. On Sunday, police were summoned to a home by a neighbor. The man, who was cutting fish, allegedly answered the door holding scissors, and the police reacted, shot and killed him. ¬†The police claim he was attacking with the scissors. China has summoned the French Ambassador to explain the incident and the police are conduction a “full investigation.”

Prime Minister Teresa May has officially triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, better known as Brexit, to leave the EU within the next two years. The move comes after a national referendum vote last year to leave the 28 member organisation. Meanwhile, Scotland’s leader plans to move forward with its second independence vote in 5 years. Westminister has tried to woo Scotland with greater power in the post EU United Kingdom, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon seems to not be interested.

The small nation of Montenegro is closing in on NATO Membership after the US Senate voted 98-2 to admit the small balkan country into the Alliance. The country, a former part of Yugoslavia, inclusion in the European/US military alliance is seen as a counter to Russia’s increased involvement in Eastern Europe. With Spain the final country to give consent, it looks likely that the country will joint he alliance. the two votes against the expansion came due to questions of Montenegro’s ability to contribute to the alliance, and the US’s liability in getting entangled with¬†further alliances partners.

And finally, India’s top court ruled yesterday banning older technology automobiles from being sold from April 1. In the Judgement, the court said that the health of the people outweighed the profits¬†from automobile companies. Currently a lot of vehicles, mostly motorcycles use older technology despite a ruling in 2015 recommending moving to better technology. Now, automobile companies must try and sell off their stock of vehicles by the Saturday deadline., or sell the stock overseas where the vehicles are still legal.

What’s going on?

With this blog, I generally focus on 3-4 stories every weekday from around the world. My goal with the news roundup is to try and shine some light on some news stories that don’t necessarily dominate the news cycle (*ahem* Donald Trump) One of the things however I notice is that I tend to either be rather scattershot with my coverage. I tend to try and not overload each day with bad news, or if it is too dense, or the story is in the middle of development, I tend to pass over it. This means that I often will do one and done articles for an area.

I also tend to stick to certain areas of the world as well. I have reported a lot on South Korea, the UK, and parts of Europe. So, with that in mind, I wanted to do a slight “Whats going on?” in the different regions of the world, and perhaps give a “state of the game” for various regions I may or may not cover regularly.

North America

I will start with the hardest one first. Obviously, the US dominates the North American news scene, and this is no different. The entire region is still coming to terms with the Trump Administration and the changes the new party in power brings with it. In Canada, they are wrestling a surge of Asylum seekers from the US since the election and the government is trying to figure out how to stem the tide before it becomes a problem. In the Caribbean, things are generally quiet, however nations in the area are reaching out to China to create a better relationship and travel. Mexico is fighting the US border wall idea while also reaching out to China for trade and fighting the drug cartels at home. Things are relatively quiet down in Central America as well.

South America

South America has been in an interesting place for a bit. With Columbia becoming more stable, the FARC rebellion has come to an end, which has raged for 50 years, and is seen as a growing power in the region. Meanwhile Venezuela is on the verge of collapse, with a massively devaluating currency, food shortages, and political deadlock. People have started fleeing into neighbouring countries. Last week, the government went after Bread makers saying they were taking advantage of the food shortage and forced them to provide accessible bread, despite losing money. In Brazil, there has been massive corruption scandals in the country since last year, and last week saw a massive Meat packing scandal as 33 meat companies were found to be shipping raw and unsanitised meat around the world. This lead to a meat boycott from several nations, including China, Korea, and most nations in the EU.

Europe

There is a lot going on in Europe, so it may be wise to break some things down. I think I have spoken enough about the UK and Brexit and the potential Scottish Independence movement, part 2. For Mainland Europe, the story is almost definitely how big is the Right-Wing swing through the continent. Earlier this month we saw Dutch Politician Geert Wilders’s nationalist party take second in their elections, which was actually disappointing since he was leading in the polls in the weeks leading up to the vote. Next month sees Frances’ first round of voting, which has Marne Le Pen’s party being very strong, but trails the centre-left candidate. Refugees is still a big issue in Europe with Anti-Immigration being a big issue across the continent. Bulgaria and Greece have had strong anti-refugee sentiment, and have said they will not accept any more. Greece is also facing another Austerity crises with banks as it heads into another repayment period.

The other two issues for Europe is Turkey and Russia. Turkey is having a referendum next month to amend their constitution. The amendments will create an office of the Presidency and grant it a fair bit of power to the position. Current president, Recep Tayyip Erdońüan is largely seen as an authoritarian and is using this referendum as a power grab to stay in power. Once the Prime Minister, Erdońüan has been consolidating power for years and many believe that the attempted coup last year was the event that allowed¬†Erdońüan to go after political opponents and arrest any dissenters of his government. This is made more complicated by¬†Erdońüan attacking European powers for pushing back against his authoritarianism despite trying to get into the EU. Russia seems to be all over the news so I won’t get into that too much, but Russia is pushing back against EU expansion, and has begun trying to re-create its buffer states to keep the balance of power.

Middle East/North Africa

The Middle East is, as always, a busy place. We have the Civil War/Regional War with Syria, with Russian, American, and other interests at play in the war torn country. Started during the Arab Spring, Syrias Civil War has brought in a lot of players. The Islamic State has been slowly collapsing in the area with Mosul, Aleppo, and other cities being retaken by US, Russian, Turkish, Syrian, Iraqi, and Kurdish forces. As there are so many players in this situation, there have bene incidents of friendly fire, but as the Islamic States falls further, the issue of post-war life is becoming a bigger issue for the other parties, who do not all agree with each other.

The other war that no one really is talking about is Yemen. Started in 2015, this Civil War is also a bit messy. Set between Yemen’s Shia led political group Houthis and the Sunni led Government, this war reignited¬†in 2015 over governmental changes. The situation has taken the form of a Proxy war with Saudi Arabia (and the US) helping the Government while Iran is suspected with helping the Houthis. We occasionally hear about bombing or an action done in Yemen, this is why.

Building off of Yemen, there is also a massive famine developing in the country, as well as Somalia and South Sudan. UN and other health organisations have said that fighting in all of these countries, along with worsening weather conditions have created a perfect storm for the famine to take hold. Aid and other ways to prevent the famine cannot happen as war and tribal violence plague all of these countries.

Sub Sahara Africa

The major issue in Sub Sahara Africa seems to be the Congo. Over the past several months, large scale massacre and killings have been taking place in the rural parts of the country. The Kasai region last week say 40 police officers decapitated in a stunning escalation since fighting broke out last August. Also, two UN people were kidnapped and believed to be killed in a similar matter. a Planned election has not taken place and the violence is getting worse and worse, I suspect we will start seeing this in the news a lot more in the upcoming months.

Also in Sub Sahara Africa, we have Nigeria and the Boko Haram terrorist group. Boko Haram is most known for their kidnapping of 100’s of Nigerian school girls a couple of years ago. The organisation has had a string of defeats in the last year, and some close calls with their leader almost killed last year. While Boko Haram still claims legitimacy in the region, it capabilities have been greatly hampered by the Nigerian military.

Asia

Again, a huge region, and honestly, things are busy here, but I will give the major events.

North Korea is doing its thing again, ratcheting up threats in the region. Int he last few weeks they have launched, successfully and unsuccessfully, several missiles into the Sea of Japan, prompting Japan and South Korea to raise their rhetoric accordingly. China has cut off North Koreas Coal link to China as punishment. South Korea is in dissaray as its President was Impeached and removed from Office a few weeks ago. While this has been heavily covered by me, it is important to give it context within the North Korea Situation.

China has been making moves in the region to bolster its presence. In the South China Sea, China has taken more aggressive stances on territorial claims agains Taiwan and the Phillipines, while at the same time trying to woo countries into closer ties in the wake of the US’s shift away from the region. China is also mounting a massive Trade network with Pacific Countries to take advantage of the failed TPP from the US.

South Asia and India seem to be relatively quiet, with Myanmar being the only exception with the persecution of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority group that is targeted by the Government. The usual unsettled violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan with the Taliban still continues with terrorist organisations working in both countries.

Oceania

And finally, our corner of the world. The big news out of here is basically, Cyclone Debbie slamming into the Northern Queensland coast. Striking as a category 4 Cyclone, the storm wreaked havoc last night in the region. The storm quickly died down overnight, but is still slated to cause a lot of damage. There is not much news out of New Zealand or the Pacific Islands right now to be noteworthy on the world scale.

While I haven’t hit everything, (No Belarus, no Argentina for example), I just wanted to give a state of world politics at the moment. I may do these every occasionally, just so we can get a state of the world. I hope you are all well!

Ah, and finally, in honor of the title, 4 Non Blondes.

News Roundup: 29 March

Good Morning, today is Wednesday, March 29th and here are the stories that interest me.

Iceland is experiencing a Baby Boom, 9 months after their national Soccer team had a massive win over England in last years EURO 2016. The game shocked Icelanders and Europeans alike, and caused most of the country to shut down in celebration. It also apparently led to enough carnal relations to set a new record for baby births 9 months later.

The personal data of every registered voter in Hong Kong, 3.7 million people, has been compromised.¬†Two laptops containing the entire Registered voter registry was stolen over the weekend from the electoral office. While there are registered voters in the city, just less than 1200 were allowed to vote in last weekends city elections, which saw the elevation of Hong Kong’s first female mayor.

Uber will be pulling its services from Denmark after 3 years, following a new law that makes the ride sharing app illegal to operate. The law, which requires standard metered fares and seat sensors, was passed Friday, making operating an Uber Vehicle against the law. While some on the Danish government wanted to liberalise the Taxi Laws to allow Uber and other car sharing apps to operate in the country, the law further restricting the taxi industry emerged instead. This marks another setback for the tech company that has seen a lot of controversy this year from a variety of sources, including allegations of sexism and sexual harassment within the company, to the treatment of uber drivers and comments from the CEO.

And lastly, out of Serbia, a satire joke ¬†candidate has polled second in the polls in the upcoming national election.¬†Luka Maksimovic, a 25 year old communications student has created an alter ego, Ljubisa ‘Beli’ Preletacevic, ¬†to satires the political establishment. ¬†by Spreading his candidacy on Social media and YouTube, he has skyrocketed to 20% in the polls despite being in the race only one week, and with only few days until the election. The current leader,¬†Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is leading the polls easily and will likely avoid a runoff. His progressive party is seen to be firmly in control of Serbia as he is seen as a steady hand in the regions ongoing tensions.

Getting the creative itch

This weeks marks two months since I started this blog, and so far, I have been pretty happy with the results. While I do a daily news roundup which focuses on non Trump News (for the most part), I have also been posting on a variety of other topics, both personal and the political and the other.

I am finding that through this project, I have been starting to get the creative itch to develop or do something more. Writing for me has always been a double edged sword, while I can right and express my feelings, my emotions, or my thoughts… creating something brand new is much harder. I like¬†to write, and I have a decent imagination (at least I like to think so), but every time I have a story idea or I begin to world build, I get stuck. Partially, I think it is due to trying to me wanting to explain the world, give the history, and basically basically give you everything *but* the story.

I think this has come up the most due to my finishing Horizon Dawn Zero. While I have written about the game (and how much I love it) before, it really has tapped into my deep love of a apocalyptic world with a mysterious history. Every time I think about writing something like that, I am deterred because it is so popular right now and eventually, people will move on from it…. though to be truthful, the apocalypse will never go out of fashion. I just feel that my imagination is somewhat… basic. I worry I would fall into the same tropes, and not do anything interesting, but rather… same-same.

I have also considered finding a group of people to role-play with. The Husband currently does this with a group who is playing Mage: The Awakening. And during their second campaign (of sorts) I have been absent-mindedly thinking of how I would run the story, and what story I would tell. The problem is, they are established, and I have never truly DMed before (The other time I did run two sessions of the Mistborn RPG, but it fell through, I did alright, could have done better I suspect). So I would have to find a new group, and I am unsure how to work that.

There are other creative pursuits, maybe more writing here on the blog, maybe short stories, and nothing too long. Maybe joining a choir, having sung for many years growing up and going to college, or even find a theatre I could join. I just feel that creatively I am spinning my wheels a bit and need a bit of direction. I have even thought about streaming again just to produce something.

Though, I will admit that this is a recent feeling, and I suspect it is because I am finally getting past some long seated depression I have been battling with, so that excites me… I just need something creative to do, and figure out what that is.

 

 

News Roundup: March 28

Good morning, today is Tuesday, March 28, and there are the stories that interest me.

Tensions are rising between Greece and Turkey. Turkey and Greece have been waging a war of words, and more recently, with planes and boats. Turkey’s¬†President, Recep Erdońüan, has ratcheted up the rhetoric against Greece in the lead up of the April 16 Referendum to grant the President more political power. Long time rivals, Greece and Turkey have sparred over Cyprus and other eastern Mediterranean matters for decades, but the EU alliance has done well to quell that rivalry.¬†Since the failed Turkish coup last year, 8 military officers escaped into Greece where the Greek supreme court rejected extradition requests. Since then, Turkey has made bolder and bolder claims against Greece. It has even gone as far as Erdogan has questioned the validity of a 1922 treaty that delineated the two country borders, making the Greek Defense minister state that they will staunchly defend their borders against Turkey.

The Liberal government of Canada will announce legislation next month that will legalise marijuana in Canada by July 1, 2018. The goal is for the Provinces to control the sale of the product, and the goal of the Government is to provide a safe and secure product to sell to Canadians. The Legislation is due to be introduced during the week of April 10th.

There is chaos in the Chess world today. This weekend, the World Chess Federation met in Athens where they announced the resignation of controversial president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. The next day, Ilyumzhinov denied the resignation and insists he will never intend to do so saying that it is a US plot to remove him. The Russian national has headed the federation since 1995, but has been under US sanctions since 2015 for allegedly doing business deals with Bashar Al Assad’s government in Syria. Many in the Chess world are critics of the man as he has been accused of using the Federation to ¬†advance personal interested.

And that is all from me today news wise, see you tomorrow!